Cyprus Rent Control Act of 1983 amended to fast-track eviction
The Republic of Cyprus has passed into law an amendment to the Rent Control law of 1983(the Law) on the 31st January 2020 making it easier to evict tenants who fail to pay their rent. This amendment (N.3(1)/2020) serves as a re-balance of the landlord and tenant power dynamic under Cyprus law, which has come under scrutiny in the past for being too soft on troublesome tenants, who sought to take advantage of the obstacles and time-consuming process of the Rent Control Court in recovering unpaid rent and securing eviction of tenants in breach of their contractual and statutory obligations. Landlords, and their lawyers in Cyprus bringing to court eviction proceedings in the Rent Control Court against tenants have often been frustrated by a system, and due process which could be manipulated by tenants breaching the terms of their tenancy, not paying their rent and withholding possession until such time as the case is heard in court.
With the amendment of the Law, landlords are now able to launch the eviction procedure following 21 days from the service of a written warning to the tenant who is failing to fulfill the obligation to pay his/her rent.Once the landlord commences the eviction proceedings, the tenant has 14 days to respond. The response will only be accepted by the Registrar of the Rent Control Court if it is accompanied by receipts proving the settlement of the rent in arrears. Once the Registrar decides upon the admissibility of the response, it is then put before the Court within 3 working days for the final decision on its approval or rejection– a decision that cannot be appealed. An approval of the response results in the suspension of the eviction process and continuance of the case in Court. Contrastingly, if an eviction order is issued, the tenant is afforded a minimum of 90-days grace period to vacate and deliver up the property to the landlord.
This amendment concerns “statutory tenants” – a situation that arises once the first tenancy expires and the tenant (either a Cyprus or EU citizen, residing on the island) continues to occupy in the property. The property in question must be located within the “controlled areas” as specified in the Law and has to have been completed by the 31st of December 1999. The new provisions of the law come into effect immediately, and are not applicable to eviction applications filed in Court before the 31/01/2020 or to rent due before this date provided that such due rent is settled within 12 months from the 31/01/2020.
Effectively, this change in the Law, which concerns both commercial and residential properties,shifts the burden of proof to the tenants to prove their compliance with their statutory duties by providing receipts for their rent payments. The amendment is anticipated to fast-track the eviction process in Cyprus to a few months and enable landlords to swiftly collect their dues, a feat previously thought to be notoriously slow.
Author: Iro Katsantoni